Swiss Faeries

llustration from Mein grosses Buch der Schweizer Sagen und Legenden

The Dwarfs, or little Hill– or Earth-men [a] of Switzerland, are described as of a lively, joyous disposition, fond of strolling through the valleys, and viewing and partaking in the labours of agriculture. Kind and generous, they are represented as driving home stray lambs, and leaving brush-wood and berries in the way of poor children.

Their principal occupation is keeping cattle–not goats, sheep, or cows, but the chamois, from whose milk they make excellent and well-flavoured cheese. This cheese, when given by the Dwarfs to any one, has the property of growing again when it has been cut or bitten. But should the hungry owner be improvident enough to eat up the whole of it and leave nothing from it to sprout from, he of course has seen the end of his cheese.

The Kobolds are also to be met with in Switzerland. In the Vaudois, they call them Servants, and believe that they live in remote dwellings and lonely shiels. The most celebrated of them in those parts is Jean de la BoliƩta, or, as he is called in German, Napf-Hans, i. e. Jack-of-the-Bowl, because it was the custom to lay for him every evening on the roof of the cow-house a bowl of fresh sweet cream, of which he was sure to give a good account. He used to lead the cows to feed in the most dangerous places, and yet none of them ever sustained the slightest injury. He always went along the same steep path on which no one ever saw even a single stone lying, though the whole side of the mountain was strewn as thickly as possible with boulders.